Film | LGBTQ+ activists fight for gun control after Pulse massacre

Disarm Hate is a new documentary that seeks to create awareness about gun violence against the LGBTQ+ community following the 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida.

Narrated by actor Harvey Fierstein, the film chronicles nine diverse LGBTQ+ activists who come together after the massacre to join Jason P. Hayes, a hairdresser, and an activist from New Jersey who is on a crusade.

Without political experience, Hayes builds a national rally to demand LGBTQ+ equal rights, fight the NRA (National Rifle Association), and challenge America’s obsession with gun violence.

“I wanted to bring awareness to how disproportionately gun violence has affected the less privileged members of our community,” says director Julianna Brudek. “Two weeks before Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered, Rita Hester, a trans woman of colour was murdered, and the media buried the story. Forgotten forever.”

She added, “I did not want that to happen to the Hispanic LGBTQs that lost their lives at Pulse Nightclub. As a community, we must remember the hate crimes, and work together to stop the violence perpetrated on each one of us.”

Beginning as a road trip, the journey documented in Disarm Hate turned into so much more than anyone could have expected. Exploring their similarities and differences, the group develops a life-changing bond as they visit prominent sites of gun violence that have affected LGBTQ+ people nationwide. This common ground opens discussions between the travellers and the people they meet along the way, that look to alleviate these horrific hate crimes and bring a better understanding for all.

“The threat of gun violence is intersectional,” says renowned trans activist and media personality Ashlee Marie Preston who is a cast member and an executive producer. “When someone’s identity overlaps with multiple marginalised groups, their risk is compounded. Black Americans are 10 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than white Americans. Being a woman and trans exacerbates those odds.”

She continues: “Disarm Hate focuses on the discriminatory culture within America that informs the violence marginalised communities face. If we are ever to eradicate gun violence, we must interrogate the attitudes and beliefs that fan the flames of hate. Our journey was not about taking away people’s guns, it was about removing the barriers that obstruct their ability to recognise our humanity.”

The documentary probes the emotional journeys of the activists, who squabble, laugh, cry, and even fall in love over the course of their trip. It also examines opposing views and counterpoints to their calls for gun reform from a pro-gun perspective, as they visit a shooting range and engage with a member of the Pink Pistols, a pro-gun LGBTQ+ group.

Fierstein summed it up with, “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”

Disarm Hate is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNOW, Google Play/YouTube Rentals, InDemand, Microsoft Store, and Vudu.

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